By Jeremy Balan
The Lowell High School girls’ soccer team has steamrolled Academic Athletic Association competition this year, but may have waited for its final game on Thursday, against rival Washington, to record it’s signature win of the season.
The visiting Cardinals wrapped up an undefeated AAA season by dominating every aspect of the game against Washington, en route to a 6-0 win.
Washington (11-4-1 in AAA) needed a tie or a win to seal the final playoff spot in the Heinline Division, but the loss, combined with Mission’s 3-1 win over Galileo on Thursday, knocked the Eagles out of postseason contention.
“I don’t like knocking anyone out of the playoffs, but it was a great game for us,” said Lowell coach Marcos Estebez. “We’re still improving.”
The Cardinals (19-2-1, 16-0) were led by a game-high four goals from freshman forward Mikela Waldman and dominated possession throughout, peppering Washington goalkeeper Ericka Lane with 15 shots.
“It feels good [to beat a rival],” Waldman said. “Things were working well and we have a really strong team this year. As a freshman I came on and everyone was already so good, so I’m just proud to be a part of it.”
Waldman provided most of the offense, but the Cardinals also got a lift from junior forward Alejandra Sanchez, who tallied a goal and distributed two assists.
“They control and patrol the front, but they’re different players,” Estebez said. “Mikela is a vertical player and has extraordinary speed; she’s like a little rocket. [Sanchez] is more of a finesse player, [setting up] other players.”
Mostly due to Lowell’s constant pressure and possession, Washington often struggled to get the ball out of its own end and only managed a single shot on net, which came late in the second half.
“Lowell is very talented and it’s always a pleasure to play against them, because in our league good competition doesn’t happen all the time,” said Washington coach Charles Brinton.
Still, Brinton admitted it will be tough to look back on the missed opportunities that would have put them in the postseason.
“There were a couple of games [we should have won],” Brinton said. “We tied Galileo here, and we dominated that game, but our shots weren’t on frame or were right at the goalie. We have things to work on so next season we can come out strong.”
After outscoring AAA opponents 90-2 in the regular season and the three other playoff teams 25-0 in four games, the Cardinals will be prohibitive favorites entering the AAA playoffs, which start next week.
Lowell’s semifinal matchup will be against O’Connell on Tuesday at Boxer Stadium. The Cardinals dispatched the Boilermakers (12-2-2 in AAA) 5-0 the regular season.
“All we have to do is take a look at last year’s championship game, where it was only 1-0. We were favored but hardly looked dominant,” Estebez said. “It’s been a great season and this is a great group of girls. I’d say this is one of the more talented teams Lowell has had.”
In the other semifinal Wednesday, Mission will take on Lincoln.
L: 4th minute – Mikela Waldman
L: 19th minute – Waldman
L: 32nd minute – Adrienne Pearce
L: 37th minute – Waldman
L: 44th minute – Alejandra Sanchez
L: 47th minute – Waldman